The San Diego Padres have six straight losing seasons while failing to make the playoff in the last ten years. In the team’s 48-year history, they’ve been in the playoffs five times with two World Series appearance. Their combined playoff record is 2-17.
With the move to Petco Park in 2004, Fantasy owners have been able to find some value in starting pitching due to the nature of the ballpark. That hasn’t been the case over the last two seasons. San Diego fell to 10th in the National League in ERA (4.43) while fading in runs allowed in the last two seasons. Their bullpen ERA (4.18) ranked 23rd in the majors with 25 wins, 20 losses, and 35 saves.
This season the pitching staff is loaded with have-nots with no sign of upside in the near future. The bullpen looks to have more risk than reward as well.
The only player of value lost to free agency was SP Tyson Ross. The Padres traded C Derek Norris to Washington for SP Pedro Avila. They locked up Wil Myers for six seasons, so the franchise has one drawing card at the gate. SP Trevor Cahill signed a one-year deal.
San Diego has improved offensively in the last two seasons. They finished 10th in the NL in runs (686), which was 36 runs more than 2015 (650) and 151 more than 2014 (535). The Padres hit 177 home runs (9th).
This season the starting lineup will have six new starting players with 1B Wil Myers being the only player offering impact upside in 2017.
It will be another long season for San Diego fans, but they do have some new young hitting talent to root for – OF Manuel Margot, OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Alex Dickerson, and C Austin Hedges.
1. OF Manuel Margot
Over five seasons in the minors, Margot hit .288 with 29 HRs, 230 RBI, and 162 SBs over 1821 at bats. His success projected over 550 at bats with be a 10/40 player. His walk rate (8.0) is about league average with a low K rate (11.4). Despite the hitting struggles at the major-league level, the Padres refused to call up Manuel before September despite playing well at AAA (.304 with six HRs, 55 RBI, and 30 SBs over 517 at bats). In his short at bats (37) with San Diego, he had no walks with an 18.9 percent K rate. His CTBA (.347) was the best of his young career in 2016 at AAA, but it tends to offer minimal upside in his batting average if he makes weaker contact in the majors. He needs to improve his success rate (74.3) when trying to steal. I don’t think he’s a lock to bat leadoff and he’ll have to battle Travis Jankowski for playing time in centerfield. He offers the most upside in center so it would only make sense to let him develop. Unfortunately, Fantasy owners don’t manage major league teams so we are at the mercy of the manager for his opportunity. Backend flier with his best asset being speed if he earns every day at bats.
2. OF Alex Dickerson
Dickerson handled himself well over 253 at bats in his rookie season. He hit .257 with 39 runs, 10 HRs, and 37 RBI. He had a favorable K rate (15.4) and upside in his walk rate (9.1). Alex had more power (nine HRs in 193 at bats) against RH pitching while being league average against lefties (.267). Over six seasons in the minors, Dickerson hit .309 with 58 HRs, 325 RBI, and 26 SBs over 1926 at bats. His walk rate (8.0) was league average in the minors with just above the league average K rate (19.0). He lost most of the 2014 season in the minors due to a bad ankle injury that required surgery. Dickerson has a high enough AVH (1.627 at AAA in 2016) to deliver more than 20 HRs with a full season of at bats. His CTBA (.311) was well below his minor-league success (.437 in 2016 at AAA) suggesting more strength in his batting average. Excellent chance of 80+ runs, 20+ HRs, and 80+ RBI with upside in his batting average. He’s been overlooked in the early draft season (ADP of 387 in 15 team leagues). His value will rise this spring.
3. OF Wil Myers
I’ve just started to be in draft mode, and I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on Myers yet early in the fourth round in 15 teams leagues. His skill set with 28 HRs and 28 SBs is a beacon in the night telling me that he’s undervalued while understating the Padres have below par talent around him in the starting lineup. His K rate (23.7) almost matched his career average (23.8) while his minor-league resume had a little more upside (21.1). Wil has strength in his walk rate (10.1). His AVH (1.781) wasn’t a fluke as it came in almost the same with his 2013 season at AAA (1.819) while his 2012 success (1.909) points to even more power. The jump in steals was a surprise when considering his minor-league resume (41 SBs over 1707 at bats). Myers was electric in June (.327 with 11 HRs, 33 RBI, and five SBs over 98 at bats). His swing did come in flat in May (.229 with two HRs, nine RBI, and three SBs), July (.226 with two HRs, nine RBI, and eight SBs), and August (.216 with three HRs, nine RBI, and five SBs) while bouncing back in September (five HRs, 21 RBI, and four SBs). Over the last three months of the season, Wil only hit .233 with 105 Ks over 300 at bats (30.7 K rate). His ground ball rate (44.7) was a career low, but he also hit fewer fly balls (33.9). Myers had a career-high HR/FB rate (18.7). Special player who now offers value in at least four categories. His K rate is close enough to league average (20.4) to expect more upside in batting average. Despite playing a full season, Wil only had 369 RBI chances. My baseline is .280 with 80+ runs, 25+ HRs, 80+ RBI, and 15+ SBs while understanding the over could come in every category. The Padres thought enough of him to sign him to a six-year $83 million contract in January.
4. 3B Yangervis Solarte
Over the last two seasons, Solarte had growth in his AVH (1.629) leading to a career high in HRs despite only having 405 at bats. He missed about six weeks after playing five games in April due to a hamstring issue. In June, Yangervis battled a minor thumb injury leading to a quiet month (.265 with one HR and 11 RBI over 83 at bats). Over the last three months of the season, he hit .290 with 11 HRs and 48 RBI over 272 at bats. His RBI rate (22) was elite while only having 269 RBI chances. Solarte offered more upside against RH pitching (.291 with 12 HRs and 54 RBI over 309 at bats). He did have a spike in his K rate (14.2) while remaining in a favorable area. His walk rate (6.8) offered more upside in his rookie season (9.9). At this point of his career, Yangervis has outplayed his minor-league resume (.289 with 41 HRs, 319 RBI, and 33 SBs over 2566 at bats). His GB rate (41.2) is trending down with a career high HR/FB rate (11.9). Solarte seems like a misplaced skill set at third base and a cleanup hitter, but he’s improved enough in power and RBI production to be a 20/80 hitter with 550 at bats. I expect his batting average to finish above the league average. Yangervis looks to be the best option to hit behind Wil Myers in 2017.
5. OF Hunter Renfroe
Over four seasons in the minors, Renfroe hit .281 with 77 HRs, 283 RBI, and 23 SBs over 1716 at bats. Even with plus success in AAA in 2016 (.306 with 30 HRs, 105 RBI, and five SBs over 533 at bats), the Padres didn’t call him up until September 21st. His K rate (23.0) was below the league average in the minors with a short walk rate (6.5). Hunter played great over his 35 at bats in the majors (.371 with four HRs and 14 RBI) while striking out 13.9 percent of the time. He is a former first round draft pick (13th overall in the 2013 June MLB Amateur Draft). Renfroe has the talent to be an everyday player in the majors while offering a 20/80 skill set in his first season. His AVH (2.115) is rising while having a high floor in CTBA (.390 at AAA in 2016). His batting average may be a slight negative in his rookie season. Hunter has an ADP of 236 in the early draft season in 15 team leagues. I fully expect him to hit over 30 HRs a couple of times in his career.
6. 2B Ryan Schimpf
Injuries at second base with the Padres created a window for Schimpf to prove his worth as a major-league player. He finished with a high K rate (31.8), which was much higher than his minor-league resume (22.6). Ryan had a plus walk rate (12.7) supported by his minor-league success (11.8). His AVH (2.450) may have been the highest in the majors for a player with more than 250 at bats. His AVH has consistently been over 2.000 in the minors. Schimpf struggled against lefties (.157 with three HRs and 10 RBI over 51 at bats plus 25 Ks). He hit .231 vs. RH pitching with 17 HRs and 41 RBI over 225 at bats. Ryan had a massive run in July and August (.261 with 16 HRs and 37 RBI over 165 at bats). Thirty-two of his 43 hits over this period went for extra bases. In September, pitchers started to catch up with him (.171 with four HRs and 13 RBI) leading to a weaker K rate (39.6). Over eight seasons in the minors, Schimpf hit .249 with 128 HRs, 412 RBI, and 36 SBs over 2579 at bats. There’s no question his power if for real, but he needs to make better contact in the majors. I expect him to be a platoon player while offering a 30+ HRs if he’s able to get 450+ at bats. San Diego can tolerate his batting average risk as long as he takes walks and his extra base hits. Easy to write off for most, but he did have 119 runs, 35 HRs, and 99 RBI over 442 at bats between AAA and the majors in 2016. His jump in CTBA from 2015 (.316) to 2016 (.444) at AAA does suggest some added juice.
7. C Austin Hedges
Over six seasons in the minor, Austin hit .271 with 44 HRs, 239 RBI, and 26 SBs over 1474 at bats. His bat made a nice forward in 2016 at AAA (.326 with 21 HRs and 82 RBI over 313 at bats). In April, Hedges broke a bone in his left hand that required surgery. He missed almost two months of action. His walk rate (6.3) was below par with a favorable K rate (16.6). Over 161 at bats in the majors, Austin only hit .161 with three HRs and 12 RBI over 161 at bats. His inability to make contact (25.3 percent K rate) in the majors hurt his chances to make the majors out of spring training. Talent bat with developing power, but I expect a learning curve. Maybe .250 with 15 HRs and 60 RBI if he gets 450+ at bats something he’s never done in the minors.
8. SS Erick Aybar
The Padres signed Aybar to a minor-league contract in early February to compete for the starting shortstop job. In 2016, he had his worst season of his career (.243 with three HRs, 34 RBI, and three SBs over 415 at bats). Erick stopped running while his AVH (1.317) and CTBA (.293) moved to a weak area. His K rate (15.3) was a career high (11.7 in his career) while setting a career high in his walk rate (6.8). Aybar did have a stronger batting average over the last four months of the seasons (.267) with minimal production (three HRs, 28 RBI, and one SB over 277 at bats). He suffered an abdomen injury in September, which led to only 44 at bats for the month. His swing path has regressed dramatically over the two seasons resulting in a huge ground ball rate (57.1) in 2016. His HR/FB rate (3.8) hasn’t had a pulse in four seasons. Nothing more than a black hole in a Fantasy lineup with his only chance of value coming in speed if he decides to run in 2017. His experience should give him the inside track for the starting job.
9. OF Travis Jankowski
For a Judy type hitter (pure base stealer), Jankowski strikes out way too much (26.1 percent in 2016). He did have growth in his walk rate (11.0). Over four years in the minors, Travis hit .293 with three HRs, 105 RBI, and 137 SBs over 1283 at bats. He walked 9.2 percent of the time with better K rate (14.1). Jankowski was drafted in the first round in 2012 (44th overall). He struggled vs. lefties (.155 with 25 Ks over 84 at bats) in the majors in 2016, which points to a platoon role. Leadoff ability with elite speed, but he needs to control the strike zone batter.
BN. 2B Cory Spangenberg
Cory suffered a torn quad injury in April results in him missing the rest of the season. Here’s a look at his 2016 profile: Over five years in the minors, Cory hit .294 with 13 HRs, 165 RBI, and 108 SBs in 1522 at bats. His K rate (18.5) and walk rate (7.7) were about league average in the minors. In his first seasons in the Pros with decent at bats, Spangenberg came up short in April and May (.224 with two HRs and five RBI). Over the last three months played in 2015, Cory hit .296 with 22 runs, two HRs, 17 RBI, and five RBI in 196 at bats. He suffered a left knee issue in June leading to six weeks on the DL. His K rate (21.7) had some weakness with a league average walk rate (8.1). He had a ground ball swing (50.5) with a low FB rate (24.5). His HR/FB rate (7.5) limits his upside in power. Over the last four years, Spangenberg had growth in his AVH (1.476). Not an elite prospect with low upside in power. His speed will be his biggest asset. At best, .270 with less than 10 HRs and 20+ SBs with questions with his at bats. This season he’ll compete for the starting second base job.
C Christian Bethancourt – Over 462 at bats in the majors, Bethancourt hit .223 with eight HRs, 46 RBI, and two SBs. His free-swinging approach leads to high K rate (24.1) and short walk rate (3.7). Over eight seasons in the minors, Christian hit .275 with 38 HRs, 281 RBI, and 60 SBs over 2239 at bats. I saw him hit a couple of long HRs in 2016 so his power my surprise. If Hedges struggles, Bethancourt will get a better than expected opportunity.
IF Allen Cordoba – The Padres selected Allen in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, which forces San Diego to keep him on the major roster all season if they want to keep him. Over two seasons in the minors, Cordoba hit .352 with two HRs, 38 RBI, and 33 SBs over 398 at bats. He’s only 21 so his bat should offer upside when he adds more strength.
1. SP Christian Friedrich
Friedrich is a former first round draft pick for the Rockies (2008). His arm appeared to offer upside in 2009 when he went 6-5 with a 2.41 ERA and 159 Ks over 119.2 innings. A sore elbow and back issues derailed his career and pitching in Colorado (5.81 ERA over 167.1 innings) didn’t help his confidence. Last season Christian allowed four runs or fewer in 18 of his 23 starts. This isn’t a great stat, but based on this pitching staff, at least he kept them in games. His only month of value with April (1.65 ERA over 16.1 innings), but he did walk 10 batters. His AFB (90.1) was a career low. Friedrich had success with his slider (.177 BAA), his cutter (.200 BAA, and his changeup (.233 BAA), but his fastball was too easy to hit .286. A no-value arm with a high walk rate (3.6).
2. SP Luis Perdomo
Perdomo has a less than stellar minor league resume (4.10 ERA with 270 Ks over 316 innings) with a respectable walk rate (2.7). His arm had a ton of disaster risk in his first year in the majors. As a reliever in April, he allowed 13 runs and 28 base runners over 10.2 innings. Even with failure, the Padres continues to wheel him out to the mound in May and June (7.87 ERA). Over ten starts in July and August, Luis started to find his rhythm (3.59 ERA). He walked too many batters in August (13 over 33.1 innings) while serving up eight HRs over 31 innings in September. On the year, he almost repeated his minor league walk rate (2.8) with fade on his K rate (6.4). Perdomo has an elite fastball (95.1), but batters drilled his four-seamer (.482 BAA and .765 SLG) and his sinker (.308 BAA). A hard thrower who needs to locate his fastball better plus improve the value of his secondary pitches. Too much disaster risk for me at this point in his career.
3. SP Jhoulys Chacin
It’s sad that I must consider writing about Chacin as an option for the Padres in 2017, but the pitching pool is full of emptiness. Jhoulys appeared to be an upside arm early in his career with the Rockies. From 2009 to 2013, he went 37-41 with a 3.61 ERA and 472 Ks over 608.2 innings. In 2014, he suffered a rotator cuff injury in his right shoulder leading to his poor season (1-7 with a 5.40 ERA). He never had surgery to repair his issue, so Chacin had to work his way back to the majors at AAA. He pitched well in 2015 (3.22 ERA) on the farm, but he lost his K ability (6.2) with fade in his walk rate (3.1). Injuries to the Braves and the Angels pitching staff allowed him another in the major last year. Jhoulys finished with a poor ERA (4.68) and plenty of WHIP risk (1.444). His AFB (91.7) had more life than 2014 (89.2) and 2015 (89.4) while falling just short of his career best (92.0) in 2011. Batters still struggled to hit his slider (.171 BAA) and curveball (.197 BAA) while every other pitch had losing value. Without better command, he’s dead in the water even in a pitcher’s park.
4. SP Trevor Cahill
By the time Cahill turned 25, he had 53 majors wins with one elite season on his resume (2010 – 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA). Over the last four years, Trevor has pitched his way out of a starting job due to a poor walk rate (3.6 in his career). He has low K ability (6.4 in his career). In 2016 as a reliever for the Cubs, his stuff regains value against both RH (.197) and LH (.206) batters while striking out a career-high 9.0 batter per nine. His downside is still tied to his poor walk rate (4.8). Cahill continues to be a ground ball pitcher (56.6 percent in 2016). His HR/FB rate (18.4) has shown risk in back-to-back seasons. His AFB (93.4) has been stronger in the last two years in the bullpen. Batters have a tough time with his curveball (.115 BAA) and slider (.106 BAA). The key to his upside is better location with his sinker (.288 BAA). When looking at the poor options here, Trevor was at least tough to hit in 2016. Does this translate into success as a starter? I’m not sure, but he could surprise with a step forward with his strike throwing ability.
5. SP Clayton Richard
Richard has one of the lowest K rate (5.5) in the majors and he still struggled to throw strikes (4.1 walk rate in 2016). Last year batters hit .300 against him, but somehow he managed to post a 3.33 ERA over 67.2 innings. In 2013, Clayton went 14-10 with the Padres with a 3.99 ERA while only striking out 4.4 batters per nine. A left shoulder injury killed his value in 2013 and the 2014 season. His AVB (92.6) had more velocity due to pitching out of the bullpen for part of the season in 2016. His only pitch of value was a curveball (.214 BAA), which he threw less than 15 percent of the time. Richard did do a nice job keeping the ball on the ground (65.1 percent of the time). Losing innings eater with no real value in any category.
6. SP Andrew Lockett
Lockett wasn’t healthy in 2014 in A ball when he walked 13 batters in ten innings with two Ks. He started to gain some momentum at low A in 2015 (3-0 with a 2.83 ERA and 47 Ks in 57.1 innings), but Andrew pitched poorly at A ball (0-3 with a 7.98 ERA). Last season his arm had value at A, High A, and AA (2.77 ERA with 111 Ks over 146 innings) before fading at AAA (4.50 ERA). Lockett has excellent command in the minors (2.0 walk rate), but he only struck out 6.7 batters per nine. His fastball can reach the mid-90s while throwing an upside changeup. If Andrew can handle AAA, he’ll have a shot at the majors in 2017.
7. SP Zach Lee
Over six years in the minors, Lee had a 4.29 ERA with 614 Ks over 794.1 innings. He pitched well in AA in 2013 (3.22 ERA) while having success in 2015 at AAA (11-6 with a 2.70 ERA and 81 Ks in 113.1 innings). In between his success, there has been too much bad (2016 – 7-14 with a 6.14 ERA at AAA and 2014 – 7-13 with a 5.39 ERA and 97 Ks in 150.1 innings). His walk rate (2.4) is in a winning area, but Lee struggles to strike out batters (7.0 per nine). In his only appearance in the majors in 2015, Zach allowed seven runs and 12 base runners over 4.2 innings. His AFB came in at 90.9. He’ll mix in a changeup and slider followed by an occasional curveball. Former first round pick (28th overall in 2010). Squirrelly resume with plenty of disaster risk, which fits in perfect with the Padres rotation in 2017.
8. CL Brandon Maurer
Maurer was the last man starting in the 9th inning by the end of the 2016 season. Over his first nine games of the season, he allowed seven runs and 11 baserunners over nine innings. Brandon battled back over the nine games to get his ERA (3.57) back in line, but disaster struck again over the next month (17 runs and 28 base runners over 12 innings) to push his ERA to 6.97. Maurer pitched well over the next six weeks (one run over 20 innings with 19 Ks) to earn himself a closing opportunity. He pigged out again over nine games in August (seven runs and 18 base runners over eight innings). In September, Brandon had one disaster outing (three runs and five baserunners over two-thirds of an inning) while not allowing a run over his other ten innings with seven saves and 10 Ks. As the closer, he converted 13 of 15 save chances. His downside in the 9th is due to risk vs. RH batter (.263) while issuing more walks to lefties (18 of his 23 - .213 BAA). His AFB (96.3) was career best. Batters struggled against his slider (.221 BAA) and changeup (.167 BAA). In 2016, Maurer was much tougher to hit (.209) with the same issue against RH batters (.261). Nice fastball with two secondary pitches of value with reasonable command in most season, but his lack of success vs. righties doesn’t bold well for him closing long term. His disaster risk and possible job loss would push me elsewhere.
9. RP Carter Capps
Capps figured out how to throw strike one (65.3) in 2015, which led to electric K rate (16.8). His walk rate (2.0) was the best of his career. His started with a quick trip to AAA after pitching one clean inning in the majors on April 13th. Over five weeks at AAA, Carter didn't look like an impact pitcher (3.00 ERA and 6.0 walk rate). Miami called him up late in May leading to two and half months of elite success (1.20 ERA with 57 Ks in 30 innings). With a healthy season and repeated command, Capps has a chance at 100 Ks. His AFB (98.1) was the best of his career. His only other pitch thrown is a plus, plus curveball (.083 BAA). His season ended in early August pf 2015 due a right elbow issue that ended up needing TJ surgery last March. Typically, it takes 18 months to regain your previous form with some pitchers making it back in about 15 month. A reliever may have a shorter window due to the less innings required. Either way, I would temper my expectations early in the year. Carter sure looks closer worthy, but his success was still a small sample size. Best option for saves on the team if/when he’s ready to take on a full workload.
10. RP Kevin Quackenbush
Over three seasons in the majors, Quackenbush has 3.50 ERA with a fading WHIP (2014 – 1.104, 2015 – 1.234, and 2016 – 1.291), a rising HR/9 rate (2014 – 0.3, 2015 – 1.234, and 2016 – 1.291), and a diminishing K rate (2014 – 9.3, 2015 – 8.9, and 2016 – 6.3). His walk rate (3.3) was a career high in 2016 as well. In his six seasons in the minors, Kevin had a 17-5 record with a 1.19 ERA and 267 KKs over 203.2 innings. He even has 72 saves on his minor-league resume. His AFB (91.6) is below the league average. He throws a curveball (.219 BAA) as his out pitch followed by an occasional slider (.143 BAA). Not ready for the 9th majors unless he throws more strikes. Kevin does look attractive based on his minor-league success.
Baseball America Prospect Handbook. (n.d.).
Baseball-Reference. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.baseball-reference.com/
Brooksbaseball.net. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.brooksbaseball.net/
Fangraphs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fangraphs.com/
Roster Resource. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rosterresource.com/mlb
Rotowire. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rotowire.com/
RotoWorld. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rotoworld.com/